Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our Sunday Visitor Headline: "How Video Games are Good for Kids"

As usual, I'm totally LTTP on this one, but this is too significant to ignore: The Catholic Newsweekly Our Sunday Visitor (a publication I would highly recommend, BTW, if only because of the spectacular writing of Russell Shaw) published an article earlier this month entitled "A Proposal: Computer Games can be Beneficial for Children." The editors pushed it the article to the front cover of the weekly edition, too, so anyone who has a subscription to the publication should have no trouble finding the article. The author, Eugene Gan, himself a professor at Franciscan University in Stuebenville, Ohio, chronicles the time he spent playing Lego Star Wars II with his son.

Some notable excerpts:

"We've all heard how sports help kids learn important life lessons, including perseverance, teamwork and all the rest. I propose -- and this may horrify some of you -- that computer games can play the same formative role."


"Talk about team play: It was in one such level in the computer game that I could hear myself coaching my son to persevere and not to give up so easily.

"Stick with it, son. You can do it."

But he was too quick to whine, "I can't do it," without really even trying. Aha, a life-lesson opportunity. I paused the game to talk about the importance of facing challenges, recovering from failure, and relating it to Our Lord's falls while carrying the cross on the Via Dolorosa. (That last one didn't seem as much a stretch at the time.)

The key is to look beyond the old perception of computer games as solely eye-hand-coordinated diversions for real opportunities to encourage more coordination through thinking and purposeful movement."

Feel free to read the whole thing here.

For my part, I was simply glad to read an article from the Catholic Press that didn't lambast video games as something inherently evil (which, sadly, has been the norm for the past decade or so, even though the U.S. media in general seemed all to eager to perpetuate this same viewpoint even now). This article, however, is actually the latest example of a growing trend in Catholic media outlets. No longer are video games to be ignored as worthless or, worse yet, derided as sinful mind-numbing, soul-stealing agents. The article leaves something to be desired (it leaves an open door to critics that claim the lessons learned from video games are also just as easily learned from sports, clubs, and other activities, which really just reflects an ignorance of video games as both a communications and artistic medium), I'm glad that prominent Catholic publications, both web-based and printed periodicals, are beginning to discover video games as something worthy of accolades rather than something to be dismissed with derision. Kudos to Eugene Gan and OSV for running this piece!

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